With the rapidly increasing use of social media tools for marketing and PR comes growing pressure to demonstrate results. But what metrics are really most appropriate for social media measurement? How can you monitor everything that’s being said about your company, competitors and key industry topics across the social media landscape without spending a fortune on monitoring software? Is your social media strategy built on a solid foundation, or is it more like a Hollywood movie set—a pretty facade with nothing behind it? Which tools are most important for social media participation, analyzing what’s being said, and separating important substance from the noise?
Discover the answers to these questions and others here in more of the best posts on social media from this year.
ROI Is Dead by StraightUpSearch
This post suggests that marketers should focus on a different ROI when calculating the value of social media efforts: “return on insight.” Traditional ROI measures fail to take into account the search value of social media engagement, as well as the value of the customer service and product enhancements that social listening and interaction can provide.
Facebook Lets Users Open Up Profiles by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Mark Walsh helpfully outlines the recent changes Facebook has made to its privacy settings, though noting that “profiles opened to everyone, however, will still not turn up in searches on Google or other outside search engines.”
How to Build a Reputation Monitoring Dashboard by aimClear
Marty Weintraub provides a remarkable and highly detailed guide to setting up a social media reputation monitoring dashboard using free tools such as Google Alerts, iGoogle, Google Analytics, and keyword tools along with Excel. The set up takes some time, but the end result is a powerful monitoring tool without the cost of a paid social media monitoring application. This tutorial is clear and generously illustrated with screenshots.
Rick Burnes notes that without a strong content strategy to back up social media efforts, marketers risk the “all hat, no cattle” syndrome: lots of attention on Twitter and Facebook, but no compelling content to back it up and turn the curious into the converted. Compelling thought-leadership content, blog posts, white papers, video and SEO efforts support and create long-term value for social media tactics.
A free DIY approach to social media by iMedia Connection
Rebecca Weeks provides a “cheat sheet” with five key tactics to increase website traffic through social media, including interaction on the most popular social networking sites, using free Twitter tools to maximize the value of that platform, and getting exposure on social news sites. Another noteworthy post from this publication is Facebook is a Personal CRM for Baby Boomers, in which Daniel Flamberg reports on an Accenture study showing that in early 2009, “boomers posted a 59 percent increase in use of social networks; a rate of adoption 30 times faster than any other age group.” Facebook’s InsideFacebook blog reports that in February and March of this year, the number of Facebook users age 35 and over doubled. Boomers use Facebook somewhat differently than younger age groups as well; Flamberg notes that “they are more reticent to share information, less likely to leave comments and a bit slower to join groups.”
8 Excellent Tools to Extract Insights from Twitter Streams by Social Media Today
Noting that with the collective millions of tweets produced every day, there is “an emerging demand to sieve signals from noises and harvest useful information,” Yung-Hui Lim reviews Twitter analytics tools that can help with the task, including Twitalyzer, Trendistic (formerly Twist), Twitt(url)y and TweetStats.
What’s In Your Social Media Toolkit? by Dave Fleet
In this short but useful post, Dave Fleet outlines the set of social media tools he finds most useful on a daily basis, such as Google Reader for keeping up with blogs, Twitter for real-time communications, Radian6 for social media monitoring, and LinkedIn for social networking.
Video search 101: Marketing and optimization by iMedia Connection
Noting some statistics on the explosive growth of online video, David L. Smith explains how marketers can use video search engine optimization (VSEO) and video search engine marketing (VSEM) to maximize both the organic and paid search value of video assets.
Forrester: B2B Marketers Need To Keep Up With Business Technology Buyers On Social Media by Forrester Research
It’s pretty rare to include a press release in a best of list here—actually, this is probably the first time ever—but this one includes key statistics on how b2b buyers use social media on the job. As the release notes, “Despite the fact that 77 percent of business technology decision-makers engage with social media on the job, most B2B marketers are not effectively using social technologies to influence the purchasing decisions of their customers.” For those marketers, reading this announcement is a starting point.
6 Steps for Creating a Social Media Marketing Roadmap & Plan by Social Media Today
Lorna Li provides an outstanding roadmap for b2b social media marketing, starting with an understanding of what social media is and what it can and can’t do. She explains how to use tactics like blogger outreach, social networking and social news marketing to create engagement with prospects and move them toward your solutions. Another noteworthy post from SMT is Social Media ROI – a financially sound method. After noting that no “even ‘somewhat’ acceptable method for calculating marketing ROI” exists, Axel Schultze goes on to propose a formula for measuring the ROI of social media interactions. But measuring the return from social media investments is problematic for several reasons, and the notion of being able to do so with any accuracy remains controversial, as indicated in the large number of comments generated by Axel’s post.
Top 25 Social Networks by Navel Marketing
Brian Critchfield reports on the top social networks ranked by traffic. The list also shows previous rank—indicating which networks are growing and which faltering. While most of the sites on the list are hardly surprising (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), there are a few unexpected results, like Tagged at #6 and Yuku at #16.
Noting that “Depending on how popular and well-known your brand is, there may be few or many people talking about it,” Dan Schawbel recommends setting up an RSS feed reader and Delicious account, then using free monitoring tools such as Google Alerts, Technorati, Twitter and Social Mention to keep tabs on discussions of your company and products across social media platforms. For those marketers more serious about social media engagement, and a budget to back it top, Dan wrote a follow-up post detailing the Top 10 Reputation Tracking Tools Worth Paying For, including Buzzlogic, Radian 6 and Cision.
5 forces that are strangling conversational marketing by iMedia Connection
Tom Hespos warns marketers against five practices that can damage a brand in the social media sphere, like failing to think about conversational marketing strategically, or flooding Twitter with brand messages rather than engaging in true dialogue.
11 Reasons You Can’t Ignore Social Media in 2009 by Digital Labz
Social media now has wide adoption as a marketing and PR tool, but for those still reluctant to use tools like blogs, video, LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing, Eric Brantner offers almost a dozen reasons to get started, such as “social media is gaining trust,” it’s fast, it’s passionate, and it’s free (at least the tools are for the most part).
Study: Company Blogs Lead Social Media Options by MediaPost
Mark Walsh reports that “blogging (is) the most important lead-generation source among social media options, followed by StumbleUpon, YouTube, Facebook, De.lic.ious and Digg” (not a surprising result, considering that those other sites tend to support a corporate blog, not replace it). He also quotes a HubSpot study finding that three-quarters of bloggers in small to midsize companies say that “their company blogs were ‘useful,’ ‘important,’ or ‘critical’ to their business.”
Another MediaPost article worth checking out is Scout Labs Offers Cheaper Way To Monitor Consumers. Gavin O’Malley writes that Scout Labs offers “a more economical consumer sentiment-tracking service for agencies and marketers” than Nielsen BuzzMetrics or TNS Cymfony. The company has an impressive list of clients using its tool to monitor and analyze brand conversations across the social media landscape.
John McElhenney praises SlideShare as an innovative social media tool and links to his favorite groups for learning about and sharing knowledge of social media.
How to be a LinkedIn superstar by iMedia Connection
Larry Weintraub explains how to get the most out of LinkedIn, from creating the right kind of profile, building connections and soliciting recommendations to working with LinkedIn groups.
Social Media Marketing 101, Part 1 by Search Engine Watch
For those either still new to social media, or just struggling to explain its value to a manager or client, Ron Jones provides an excellent explanation of social media, the different types of sites on the social media landscape, and the marketing and PR benefits of using social media.
50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business by Social for Business
As the title promises, here are more than four dozen ideas on how to use Twitter for business, categorized into five groups including “Ideas about WHAT to Tweet” (e.g., ask questions, retweet interesting information from others, and when retweeting your own stuff, make sure it has value to the reader and isn’t just self-promotion) and “Some Positives to Throw Back” when people argue that Twitter is a waste of time, such as Twitter’s value in breaking real-time news and quickly collecting market feedback.
This very clever and ambitious post compares social media to chemistry, and lays out a “periodic table” for social media encompassing different behaviors (e.g., sharing and listening), key influencers (David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Joe Pulizzi, etc.), tools (delicious, Feedburner, LinkedIn et al.), practices, blogs and more.
7 Social Media Predictions for 2009 by Search Engine Watch
Erik Qualman produced this list of predictions in January. Granted, perhaps none were particularly daring, but his clairvoyance has proven remarkably accurate to this point. “Social media continues its rapid growth”—check. “Marketing budgets will continue shrinking”—yup. “Many free services will become defunct”—hmm, not yet, but there are still three months of 2009 to to.
John McElhenney lays out a process for mapping your social media communities, then capitalizing on their structures by letting your customers and partners tell your story for you.
Marta Kagan has put together possibly the best single presentation on social media ever. Not sure how to explain the potential and elements of social media marketing to your boss or client? Borrow some wisdom from Marta’s slide deck:
20 Totally Free Buzz Pocket Mining Tools by aimClear
Want to know what’s being said in social media circles about your company, competitors and industry but don’t have the budget for a tool like Techrigy SM2 or Radian 6? The inscrutable Marty Weintraub reviews 20 free tools for monitoring social media buzz, including StumbleUpon Recently & All Time Most Popular Hot Tags, Facebook Lexicon. Twitter search engines, Google Advanced Blog Search and a few you’ve probably never heard of.
Todd Malicoat advises marketers on how to avoid social media marketing failure by outlining seven reasons results may fall short of expectations, including “you chose the wrong channels” and “your content sucked.”
5 Social Media Mistakes To Avoid by ZoopMedia
In another post on the theme of social media mistakes to avoid, Justin Wright offers up five surefire ways to fail, such as spamming the networks with only your own content and not taking full advantage of the messaging and SEO potential of social media profiles.
The Six Fears of Facebook and Other Social Media Channels by Internet Marketing Strategies and Secrets
Bob Cargill analyzes the fears that keep some people out of the social media realm. These are individual fears (e.g., fear of rejection, loss of privacy, time commitment) rather than the social media ostrich type fears that prevent businesses from taking advantage of it.
How to Make Money Off Social Media (originally titled: Selling Social Media to Your Clients) by Webdesigner Depot
Despite the spammy title, this is a very worthwhile piece for corporate b2b marketers or those who work with them. Most helpfully, for those just getting started with social media (or not sure if they’ve started correctly), this post provides a “Suggested Social Media Package” with a list of must-haves (e.g., a WordPress blog, Twitter account, Facebook page) and nice-to-haves (e.g., a YouTube channel and Live Help component on your website). One caveat to the advice given in this post: for businesses, a Facebook page is generally a better option than a Facebook group.